As it turns out, a diamond engagement ring can do more than just hurt your bank account—it can also potentially be the direct result of pain and suffering in a war-torn community. If you haven’t done much research on diamonds or even heard the term “blood diamond,” you might be surprised to learn that many diamonds have been mined in war zones and are then traded on the black market to fund warfare and rebel groups. Diamonds mined in these conditions are known as “conflict diamonds” and the miners often face terrible conditions such as violence, starvation, and disease. In the 1990s, many became aware of this huge problem due to a particularly brutal conflict in Sierra Leone. It’s estimated that during this time up to four percent of the world’s diamond production was made up of conflict diamonds.
Since then, human rights groups and the Kimberley Process—an agreement that formed in 2000 between governments, civil society, and industry leaders to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain—have halted much of the shipment of conflict diamonds. However, if you are in the market for an engagement ring, it’s always a good idea to ask the jeweler where they sourced the diamond and whether or not there is a certificate ensuring that it is 100% conflict-free.
If that hasn’t convinced you, here are five more reasons to wear a conflict-free engagement ring.
1. A Conflict-Free Diamond Engagement Ring Isn’t More Expensive
Some may assume that a conflict-free diamond comes with an extra cost, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It all starts by working with a jeweler you trust and know is sourcing their diamonds ethically. For example, Forevermark Diamonds, which are sold by diamond giant De Beers, are not the most expensive diamonds on the market, yet they all come with a guarantee that they were responsibly sourced.
Many couples who are especially concerned about ethically sourced diamonds might be interested in Canadian-mined diamonds, which all have been mined under rigorous human rights and environmental standards. These diamonds are generally more expensive than those that are mined in Africa, but this is one way to completely ensure that you are receiving a conflict-free diamond.
2. A Wedding Ring Is Supposed to be a Symbol of Love
It may sound a little cheesy, but an engagement ring is supposed to be a symbol of love and eternity between two people. A diamond that was unethically sourced or a diamond that someone may have had to suffer for may suddenly lose its symbolism of love. The very least you could do is take the extra steps needed to ensure that your diamond wasn’t one that was mined by someone who had to endure unfair or unsafe labor practices.
3. There Are Plenty of Other Stones Just as Beautiful
If the search for a truly conflict-free diamond gives you too much to think about or too much anxiety, there are plenty of other beautiful stones that you can choose from that are more eco-friendly and labor-friendly. For example, moissanite rings are made up of silicon carbonite, which is naturally occurring but can also be created in a lab setting, and look nearly identical to a diamond. Colored stones like amethyst or ruby can also be a good alternative to diamonds. Although these other gemstones can often have similar ethical issues to diamonds, it’s far easier to track their original sourcing.
4. You Can Easily Create a Stylish Recycled Wedding Ring
If you inherited a diamond ring from a family member and are unsure about its original sourcing, it’s easy enough for a jeweler to reconstruct or reset a ring to fit a new conflict-free stone. Not only will you have the original beautiful setting, but you’ll also know for sure that this new version of the ring is conflict-free. Plus, you’ll still have that antique to pass down through the family. Just because something started out unethical doesn’t mean that you can’t change its life course.
5. You’ll Feel Good About Your Choice of a Conflict-Free Ring
Above all, when you look down at your ring you want to be able to reflect on the love and happiness that it brings. If you’re uncertain of where your ring came from, who had to suffer because of it, or what players manipulated the obstacles in order to sell you a diamond that has been compromised, it can take away some of these feelings.
It’s much better at the end of the day that you know exactly where your engagement ring came from so that you are not contributing to a cycle of violence, poverty, and human rights violations. All it takes is a little bit of research on your end to know for certain that your ring is conflict-free.